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After about two weeks of 14-16 hour days at work, I jumped at the opportunity to join some coworkers skiing in Chamonix Mont-Blanc, France. When flying into Geneva, I was delayed for the second time in the past 4 months by Air Force One. In general, though, all the transportation for this trip went smoothly. I was often the only one on busses and lift lines at the resorts were non-existent.

Chamonix is in a steep valley surrounded by four ski domains. Robert and Richard were already in Chamonix when I arrived. I rented skis, boots, poles, and a helmet and then we met at a super-convenient airbnb Robert had reserved at Chamonix Sud. That night we went out for hot wine and burgers/beer and then began the tradition of mini-marathoning Brooklyn Nine-Nine before falling asleep.

On Monday, I made sausage and eggs with croissants and then we walked up the hill to the Brévent-Flégère gondola. Robert knew his way around the mountain, so we followed him. I triple-layered thin glove liners and borrowed sunglasses to complete my outfit. At one point, Robert and Richard had to do a bit of hiking in post-hole deep snow. On the Cornu lift we witnessed flips by a skilled "speedrider," a skier with a small maneuverable parachute who skis off cliffs. Speedriding is slightly more safe than ski basing because you achieve lift before skiing off the cliff, allowing the opiton of stopping if your parachute malfunctions. This as well as ducking ropes is completely allowed in Europe, however ABS packs, and transponders (beacons if you are an American) are strongly encouraged for off-piste terrain. Ski patrol signals avalanche danger using a system of colored flags.

On Tuesday, Richard headed back to Glasgow while Robert and I took the bus for 20min to Domaine des Grands Montets. Two white male Americans, one with two dreads framing his forehead chatted us up at the bus stop. The one with the dreads was chattier, bringing up the fact that he had been a cadet in the US army for three years. From what I know of the training process that seems a bit long. Visibility at Grands Montets was poor as it continued to snow throughout the afternoon. After several runs on Bochard, we found a superb glade where snow was piling up under the Retour Pendant lift. It required a brief hike out, but there was untouched power under several fun medium-sized drops. We finished our 4-hour day with a very long run from the top of the Herse quad to the base. That evening we at at Cousin Albert's, a very nice French restaurant and chatted about how China deals with its lack of IP addresses.

Wednesday, Robert woke up too sore for more skiing. He had been snowboarding for about four more days than I had. I opted to buy the more expensive Grands Montets pass so I could take the tram to the summit (3275m). My day consisted of three laps on the tram and the last cab up on the Bochard gondola. The pylones trail was the only open glacier-side route, however I dropped into the bowl skiers left when exiting the tram station with an abundance of snow and even some fresh lines of the edges of where it was safe to ski. For diner on night four: A fancy Italian restaurant where I ordered lasagna and chocolate cake (again).

Thursday morning, I packed-up and took the rather expensive tram ride up to L'Aiguille du Midi (3842m) to take photos and get a better view of the French Alps. Skiers can hire a guide for the scenic ride down. Some mountaineers even climb up to the tram station on steep mixed routes. I made it down just in time to make my bus back to Geneva, however, my ears still haven't popped due to the quick descent and a developing head cold - it has been 3 days. The plane flights back to the UK were especially painful.